05 October 2011

Too cool for school!

My daughter is a unique little girl... I don't know many 8 year olds who would be over the moon for a SCHOOL themed birthday party, but she can't get enough of school. She devours books, is most excited to tell me what "Math Facts in a Flash" level she reached that day, and keeps school supplies in her nightstand so she can practice her creative writing at bedtime. It was a challenge to incorporate the school theme with her request for "smelly stickers" and fun activities!!

The kids didn't actually see the party room or favor bar until half way through the party because I had it tucked away inside. We did end up having beautiful fall weather though, so we spent an hour having "recess" outside. We provided plenty of hula hoops, skip ball, ribbon wands, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and ladder ball and the kids really enjoyed free play and socializing.

As soon as they came inside for cake, the squeals began! It was the ultimate confirmation that I did a good job ; ) The party featured a cake table and favor bar with tons of specially chosen goodies and a good lesson to learn for each.

The favor bar included puzzle erasers, crayons, lollipops, sticker books, gummy worms, composition books, and personalized bottle cap backpack clips... but the items that caused the biggest "scent"sation were the Smencils! I hit the jackpot and found the cutest little red metal trash can to put the Smencils in, and each had a little tag that said "Being dull STINKS!" (I thought it was hilarious hehehe!)

Big thanks to my local Publix of course, they always bake the most delicious cakes for our parties! I specifically asked them to make it look homemade (I remember taking homemade treats to school to celebrate... back when kids were ALLOWED to do such preposterous things!) I added a quick DIY chalkboard banner and a last minute custom fondant topper from Cakes and Kids. I am so grateful to Julie for helping me out at the last minute!! It was the perfect touch for our party and she even made it just like the heart shaped apple I designed for the invitations!

I used a giant polka dot hat box that I found at Hobby Lobby for a cake riser. Actually most of the party supplies are from Hobby Lobby, from the lanterns and tissue for the poms, to the chalkboard, metal pails, and locker box. Yes, I have a reserved parking space there. Well I should... anyways.

I made circle garland for the first time for this party, and I was pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy the project was! I also added leaves and stems to the paper lanterns to turn them into apples too.

Neenie was beside herself when she saw the Knock Knock that Natalie made for her party! I couldn't bear to leave it at the front door where it would only be admired on the way in, and I just happened to have a door IN the eat in kitchen that wasn't feeling very festive... so of course we had to give it a feature in the party room! It is seriously too cute for words!

The vintage desk made a great side table for drinks. In case you missed it on facebook, this little desk was actually rescued from a recycling truck  - it was once in my very own Kindergarten when I was a little girl! My mom saved it and sent it all the way to Georgia for my girls, and I added a coat of chalkboard spray to spruce it up for the party. The kids were fascinated by the desk, but even more so by the hinged juice bottles and "crayon" straws! Both the straws AND the awesome display idea are from Hey Yoyo!

They were equally fascinated by the individual ice cream cups too. I never serve ice cream at a party... c'mon, it takes FOREVER to scoop out and makes a huge mess right?! When I saw these little cups at The Party Fairy I had to give them a try. Each cup came with an inside and outside lid, a little wooden spoon to tuck in between, and it was the perfect size for a custom sticker too. I labelled the flavors on the stickers (the benefit of older children - they could read and choose for themselves!) Go forth and spread the good news, ice cream is making a party comeback!!


A last peek at the invitations I made especially for our party. They resembled two pocket folders and came complete with a bookmark, "official" school letter, and schedule (with fun revisions!)


Of course, no school year is complete without a horrible school portrait right? The boys were definitely not interested (the Mario Kart tournament on the Wii and our table of Playmobil made them more than happy though) while the girls had an awesome time getting their photos taken. It was the perfect time of year to stock up on photo booth props and we got some hilarious pictures to send in our thank you notes!

03 May 2011

Lulu's "Cowgirl Chic" roundup!

My own little darlin' celebrated her fourth birthday this weekend with a rustic, dainty and country loving chic cowgirl party! (I'm sorry there really are a gazillion photos... literally.... I wanted to show you all the little details that I had so much fun planning!) It all started with a pair of pink cowgirl boots from Target. Lulu wore them SO much they had to be replaced three times - most recently upgraded to a gorgeous pair of brown and pink Justin boots from a real cowboy boot outlet out here in the country. We live in that part of Georgia where cowboy boots, hats, and cows are normal.

{the invitations} Each invitation was hand torn and stitched onto burlap, embellished with a pink star and chocolate horse. Lulu couldn't wait to give them to her friends at preschool!

{the seating} Because the party was outdoors, it was crucial to provide a comfortable, shady area for parents to relax and kids to retreat to to enjoy their snacks and refreshments. I was so happy to have a friend willing to lend me an easy up canopy, that I draped with burlap tied at the corners with handmade rag flowers made from scraps of the girls' skirts.

Hay bales were used for both seating and table space and worked perfectly for both. An extra square of burlap made for a quick last minute "table" cloth with a ball jar balanced in the center to hold a few flowers. Honestly I was not expecting the flowers to stay standing very long but miraculously they stayed put right through the end!

{the backdrop} Real spaces require very real solutions... knowing I would be placing the main table in front of the garage door, I wanted to dress up the space just enough that the carriage style doors would look like part of the decor and not the ugly things in the background! So I made a faux cowboy rope name for Lulu and a simple coordinating wreath for either side. The wreaths also utilized scraps of burlap and raggy flowers from the skirt extras.


The rope name was a creative endeavor that involved a 25' roll of heavy gauge wire from Home Depot, a 900' spool of just twine from Hobby Lobby, 3 Command picture hooks and several hours of braiding. I am so in love with the result!

{the table} Dainty, girly and chic meets rustic, country and cowgirl! The first major undertaking was the incredible ruffled tablecloth... 40 yards of burlap and linen triple layered and hand ruffled by yours truly. Betcha didn't know I could DO that!

The insanely adorable cupcake toppers were made by the one and only Kristy of The Purple Pug. I gave Kristy a few details of the party and she totally knocked me off my cowgirl boots with adorable glittered cacti (my favorite!), magnolias (Lulu's given name is Magnolia Lu), pink cowgirl boots and pink and brown glittered "Lulu" toppers. Our guests loved them so much - the kids were over the moon to take one home with them and several moms asked if they could keep one to place in their scrapbooks!

The cake balls were SUCH a hit! I knew as soon as I saw these little pearl decked hens made by Terri's Party Treasures that they were destined to make an appearance at our event. I found the most perfect display ever for them at hobby lobby - a neat little wire egg rack with a hen on top! (I almost did cartwheels right in the middle of hobby lobby when I spotted that treasure!)

I also made mini pies.. yes I baked, I know! I saw the most adorable pie pops on Bakerella and followed her instructions to the letter (minus the lollipop sticks of course). Apple and cherry, yum!

Country fare and a lighter healthy snack was offered as well, fresh fruit with yogurt and granola dip and fresh veggies with ranch. I wanted a very rustic display to serve both, so I fabricated these from wooden trays and bowls scoured from Home Goods and ranch style candle holders I found in the clearance section of a local catch all home decor store, Real Deals.

My local Publix bakery and incredibly talented grocery cake decorator mastered my ruffle cake request on the first try! I am sooooo impressed!! While moms swooned over the gorgeous cake, the kids were busy devouring the s'more pops I whipped up. These little treats we so easy - a marshmallow with a quick dip in Wilton chocolate melts and crushed graham crackers.

{the finishing touches} Moment of truth: I have a slight obsessive compulsive side. Which led me to buy all old fashioned soda bottles... of course, I didn't have anywhere to put them so that led to this awesome tree planter which looked so much like a barrel that I had to buy it too. Of course, I don't let my girls have soda so I had to get some adorable old fashioned hinged milk bottles that I filled with chocolate and strawberry milk (and the tin tub, and pink paper straws... you can see how this is a problem for me right?!)

Party favors displayed in an old "farm fresh" crate, also found at Real Deals. The kids were treated to hand dipped gourmet apples in three yummy concoctions: Dirty Apples (caramel and jimmies), Gimme S'mores (marshmallow fluff, chocolate, and graham cracker crumbs) and Cattle Snickers (caramel, chocolate, and crushed peanuts). I don't know which was a bigger mess, my kitchen or the kids faces! They loved them!


A last minute banner whipped up with extra burlap, twine, and rag flowers. I die cut the letters on the Silhouette and hot glued them to the pennants!

Big thanks to my mom for finding the kids cowboy and cowgirl hats at Dollar Tree! I scoured for two weeks to no avail, but she found these for just $1 each - they were felt outside and I loved them, but they didn't stay on the kids heads very well so we added ribbons (what do you want for $1 right?... They still flopped a lot with the ribbons but were adorable none the less!)

{the fun} The highlight of the party was the animals! I don't like to share photos of guests for privacy issues (especially since our guest are just little cowpokes) but I have a few cute candids of the animals and the birthday girl!

Believe it or not, Mack the horse was not in high demand! My girls couldn't get enough of him (even after he nipped Neenie's hand), but I guess when you live in the country the kids can get immuned to things like that...  Lulu had so much fun riding though that she was heartbroken when it was time for Mack to go home, so I distracted her with a pen of the cutest, softest bunnies ever! 

Lola the mini horse was quite the attraction though, whether her awesome hair stylin' or laid back personality, the kids had to pet her on every trip past. Lulu and Lola had a little heart to heart moment too, so cute!


Hanging out on the "ranch"...

{the birthday portraits} After the party I couldn't resist snapping a few candids of Lulu with her sister Neenie and "best boy" Gabe. The girls' adorable outfits were custom made by Beth at Baa Baa Baby Boutique! The skirts were soooo twirly that Lulu couldn't stop shaking her hips just to see it sway.


You may recognize the little horse... er, puppy... in the last photo. That's our Reesie boy that we rescued not too long ago! 

I hope you enjoyed the photos of our lil' cowgirl's birthday! I was so sad that it ended too soon... and that she's growing up on me all too fast. With any luck, though, big sister will choose to have a cowgirl party in the fall and I can do it all over again!
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